San Luis Port of Entry opens up new processing annex

Unbeknownst to many, Yuma County’s San Luis Port of Entry sees more than 2.5 million pedestrians pass through every year. This makes it the second-busiest non-commercial port in Arizona and a worthy recipient of more resources, according to officials with the U.S. General Services Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the city of San Luis. Along with local elected officials, all of the above held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week to welcome the port’s newly constructed pedestrian annex building.

The ultra-modern building is also a testament to the role technology plays in border security. The building is equipped with 165 cameras that utilize facial recognition technology as pedestrians approach the processing booths. This tech has already helped crack down on nefarious characters looking to enter the state, and is setting the standard for technological advancements in ports of entry.

“This project delivers a facility that allows for improvement of pedestrian processing for cross-border travelers entering the U.S., in a safe and more efficient manner,” said Customs and Border Protection Acting Director of Field Operations Tucson Petra Horne. “These improvements allow CBP to continue to protect our nation’s borders while facilitating the trade and flow of commerce between the United States and Mexico.”

The technology will cross-reference images taken by cameras and CBP officers will review them along with the traveler’s documents. So far the new building has helped stop two imposters using documentation that didn’t belong to them.

Altogether, the building cost $6 million to develop, but officials say it’s well worth the investment.

“The San Luis I Land Port of Entry is a vital part of Arizona’s economy with more than 3 million vehicles and 2.5 million pedestrians crossing annually, and is the main border crossing for farm workers commuting to work in Yuma County,” said U.S. Senator Jon Kyl at the event. “The $6 million federal investment in this new pedestrian annex will provide much needed capacity that will allow shoppers, tourists and farmworkers entering Arizona to be screened more efficiently while ensuring public safety is maintained.”

The port is vital to the state’s economy. Having a closed or more restricted border/port of entry would put a kink in the flow of trade and traffic, only hindering the financial development that regular traffic brings to the state.

The building also added two new processing booths, now totaling 10 altogether. The annex will help lower life-cycle costs by sporting automated lights, low-use water fixtures to cut down on water waste, and native landscaping that’s relative to the desert climate (i.e. doing away with copious amounts of grass and trees that need plenty of water).

Yuma sees a $3.2 billion return towards the state’s economy through the agricultural assets that go shuttling in and out. The new building will allow for much faster processing, which will only help streamline the process of pushing through more than 10,000 farm workers who pass through daily.

Nick Esquer

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